Thursday, June 24, 2010

Milking It!

I was like any other kid growing up - where milk reigned supreme. Milk was, and still is in many cases known as a health food. I slowly began to feel that milk wasn’t such a health food for my body. I suffered from stomach cramps immediately after drinking it; I also suffered from inflammatory conditions such as eczema and asthma. Something told me it was the milk – so I took it out of my diet at age 16. This had a dramatic effect on both the eczema and asthma and they both disappeared. I had friends with similar experiences; they chose to drink the lactose free variety. Although their cramping disappeared their skin conditions persisted. I wasn’t thoroughly convinced that lactose was the whole reason milk didn’t sit well with me. It wasn’t until years later as I was studying Homeopathic Medicine and Nutrition that I found out that many people had milk intolerances if not allergies.

Now I am not saying that milk is not healthy for you – in fact I think it can be. The milk we buy in the grocery store is a far cry from healthy and yes the general public has been duped.

What is Healthy Milk?
To get healthy milk you first must begin with a healthy cow. A cow that is fed a diet that nature intended at the pace nature intended. Most conventional dairy cows are fed a diet of grain and corn and that is just the beginning. Many are fed bakery waste, soy, chicken manure, I will spare you the rest but I suspect you get the picture. These cows are expected to yield an extremely high volume of milk and are therefore given hormones and fed a high protein diet – both leading to mastitis in the cow – aka pus in the teets . Conventional cows are also packed in like sardines; this density creates the perfect breeding ground for disease, which in turn leads to routine administration of antibiotics. It’s no wonder they need to pasteurize this milk – would you drink it as is? It’s like asking if you would drink water out of a really polluted body of water without boiling it first – I think not!

So what are our options? Most people would lean toward the milk substitutes, soy, rice, almond etc. These are no replacement for real milk. In fact these are nothing more than processed foodstuffs that often are full of sugar and preservatives. Organic milk is another option but you are not guaranteed that animals are eating a traditional diet either, only that the diet they eat is organic and their living conditions are better than conventional cows. Some organic cows are fed an appropriate diet which is predominately grass-fed – the diet they were meant to eat. Just be sure to do your research. The problem still with these organic milks is that they too are highly pasteurized.
My choice is real milk in the raw. Unadulterated, full fat milk from pasture raised cows. The way nature intended.

Pasteurization of milk is a whole blog unto itself and its implications go beyond the parameters of this article. In short, pasteurization was essential in the 1800’s when conventional dairy farmers did not have access to adequate refrigeration and public sanitation and sewage systems were not yet efficient. Cows stood in manure and had no access to pasture. Resultantly unhealthy milk from these sources killed thousands of people. Pasteurization also allowed the milk from many different cows to be combined into one big vat regardless of how rancid and unsanitary it was.
Pasteurizing milk damages the innately healthy proteins, carbohydrates, fats and most importantly immune building compounds found in milk. Pasteurization deactivates many enzymes including lactase enzyme (responsible for breaking down lactose) which is actually the reason most people are lactose intolerant. While I could continue in this vein I will let you simply follow this link if you are interested in further information on this. or

When buying raw milk don’t go looking for low fat or skim varieties, you won’t find it. These choices are created by production plants and are often filled with starches and dry milk that is extremely high in oxidized cholesterol. The fat in milk is needed to assimilate the calcium into our bone structure as well as to absorb the vitamin D. The very two nutrients most of you drink milk for in the first place.

Is it safe?
Working for a major grocery store I see product recalls come across my desk every day for food that is supposedly safe. Even then people die and get sick from “safe food”, if you knew the numbers you would probably move to the country and grown your own, still -no guarantee. Raw milk has intricate systems that help to keep pathogens in check - a natural immunity of its own, this too is destroyed during pasteurization. All outbreaks of salmonella from contaminated milk in recent decades have occurred in pasteurized milk. The truth is anything can make you sick, a more appropriate question to ask would be “why is this making me sick?” Likely, because your digestive/immune system is overfed and undernourished.

When I talk about raw milk people screw their faces up like I’m talking a foreign language. It wasn’t so long ago that people who visited farms and lived on farms drank raw milk like drinking water from an artesian well. In fact my dad, who summered at a farm in Ontario, speaks fondly of the raw milk they use to consume. The leaps and bounds we have supposedly made in the food industry to (over) feed ourselves come with a very high price tag. The price tag is degenerating health on all levels (mentally and physically) and effects people of all ages.

So yes, I have started to drink milk again, not copious amounts (it’s not necessary) but enough to reap the benefits raw milk has to offer. No stomach cramps, no eczema or asthma!

Points of Interest
The milk marketing Board does a great job at convincing people that conventional milk is the perfect health food – they get paid to market it that way, their interest isn’t in your health!
Unpasteurized milk contains super immune building properties to create healthy digestion (Over 60% of your immune system resides in your digestive system) It also contains co-factors responsible for absorption and assimilation of key nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
Raw milk from Pasture raised cows contain significant amounts of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) sold in most health food stores in capsule form to target weight specifically around the midline.
Cost – Pay with your wallet or pay with your health it’s up to you.... Unfortunately conventional milk is subsidized by the government and therefore the public isn’t truly aware of the real cost. I pay approximately $3.00/litre for my milk.
Any food that is handled poorly can become contaminated and make you sick, building healthy immunity is your best defence against all pathogens.

Further reading...

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